Name: Cory Dow

Age: 41

Title: Owner, president, franchisee

Company: H&R Block, Waterville

About: Offers tax preparation, payroll and bookkeeping from six offices in central and Midcoast Maine

Website: hrblock.com

What’s your biggest challenge right now?

Staffing and finding people to prepare taxes longterm. There is a small pool of people and our staff is seasonal. It’s been a challenge more so in the last few years. The people (we used to hire) are working full time now or multiple part-time jobs. We try to work with people who are retirement age, and we try to work with people who may have kids at home and looking for part-time work that fits their schedule. This is our biggest time of year for hiring. We’re looking for about 15 people. The average tax season starts the second week of January and goes through April 15.

What’s the best advice anyone has given you?

Always stay open to change. That came from the previous owner. My wife’s uncle owned the business, Vincent Rossignol. It’s valuable because when you are in the tax business it’s changing — the technology is changing, and the clients in the way they want to be served is changing.

How do you foster creativity in yourself or your staff?

When we hire people, we try to hire people with different backgrounds. When you get those people together, you learn things, and that’s important. A lot of times, when we have our meetings, we share ideas between staff members of what works well.

What is your biggest fear?

Not having enough staff. We service over 7,000 clients through our offices. We want to make sure we have the most qualified staff. When we’re hiring, we’re hiring for two to three years down the road. There’s a lot of training and development. Part of the training comes from being a franchisee. We pay royalties to H&R Block, and part of that goes back into training. For every person we hire, (an amount equal to) about 10 percent of what we pay them is invested in training and it takes a lot of time. About 10 percent of the time is directly spent on training and development. That’s the field we’re in and it’s always changing.

How do you navigate changing market conditions?

We have the backing of the H&R Block corporate office. For us, changes in the tax code are business as usual. We’re always training and doing updates. Whenever there is a change, it drives in more business. The public doesn’t fully understand how those changes affect them. A lot of times, when (Congress) tries to make the tax code more simple, it creates the opposite effect. For us, it’s a very smooth process. The software that’s provided from H&R Block is usually updated within a week.

Five Questions is a new feature in Central Maine Sunday. If you are a local business and would like to be featured, contact reporter Jessica Lowell at [email protected]

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